A Short History of Redneck: The Fashioning of a Southern White Masculine Identity


Arkie, clay-eater, corn-cracker, compone, cracker, dirt-eater, hillbilly, hoosier, lowdowner, mean white, peckerwood, pinelander, poor buckra, poor white, poor white trash, redneck, ridge-runner, sandhiller, tacky, wool hat. . . . And this, of course, does not exhaust the list. Rural poor and working-class white southerners have endured a broad range of slurs throughout U.S. history, many derived from geographic regions, dietary habits, physical appearance, or types of clothing. Epithets aimed at urban poor white southerners are fewer and tend to focus on cotton-mill workers: cottonhead, cotton mill trash, cottontail, factory hill trash, factory rat, and linthead, for example. A few of the rural class slurs, especially redneck and hillbilly, are also applied indiscriminately to southern white migrants working in factories in Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, and other midwestern cities.


History and Political Science


Dr. Patrick Huber’s essay, “A Short History of Redneck: The Fashioning of Southern White Masculine Identity,” has been designated as one of Southern Cultures’ Top Ten Classroom Reads for 2016-17.

Dr. Huber is a professor of history and political science. His essay was originally published in the Winter 1995 issue of Southern Cultures, an academic quarterly publication about the history and cultures of the U.S. South. It is published by The University of North Carolina Press.

In the essay, Dr. Huber delves into the “why” behind the use of “redneck” as a rural class slur and its indiscriminate use to describe southern white migrants working in factories in large Midwestern cities.

The Winter 1995 Southern Cultures is sponsored by the UNC Center for the Study of the American South and published by Duke University Press.

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